National League Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, August 21st
(All times Eastern)
Atlanta Braves (70-52) at Washington Nationals (76-46), 7:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Atlanta - Paul Maholm (11-7, 3.39)
Washington - Stephen Strasburg (14-5, 2.91)
(Sports Network) - Stephen Strasburg isn't worried about a looming innings
limit that could end his season well before the playoffs.
As of now, the Washington Nationals' ace is still in the rotation and he'll
take the ball on Tuesday night looking to stretch his club's lead over the
second-place Atlanta Braves in the second of three straight games between the
National League East rivals.
Strasburg's rookie season in 2010 was cut short in late August due to an elbow
injury that required Tommy John surgery and he returned towards the end of
last season to make five starts.
He has been healthy so far in 2012, but Washington indicated before the start
of the season that it would like to hold him to no more than 160 innings this
season. Through 24 starts -- seven more than he made over his first two
seasons -- the right-hander is 14-5 with a 2.91 earned run average in 139 1/3
innings of work.
Strasburg would like to pitch for the remainder of the season and hasn't heard
anything yet about being shut down.
"I don't know what the decision is and everything, but we're not there yet,"
Strasburg told Washington's official website. "So that's what I keep telling
myself. We still have to finish out the season. When we get to that point, we
have to figure that out. For right now, I'm getting ready for my next start."
The 24-year-old has won three straight starts, going six innings in each while
allowing a total of three runs and eight hits with 19 strikeouts. He has
walked four batters in back-to-back outings, including Wednesday's win over
the San Francisco Giants.
Strasburg will face the Braves for the fifth time this season and has yielded
seven runs over 8 1/3 innings in two starts against them since a home win on
June 2 in which he held Atlanta scoreless over seven innings.
Atlanta starter Paul Maholm hopes to keep rolling with his new club as he
makes his fourth start since being acquired from the Chicago Cubs prior to the
non-waiver trade deadline.
Maholm lost his debut with the Braves, but has only given up one run over 16
innings with 12 strikeouts in back-to-back wins. That includes a three-hit
shutout of the New York Mets on Aug. 10 and seven solid innings versus the San
Diego Padres five days later.
The 30-year-old lefty, who has lost only once in his past eight decisions, is
11-7 with a 3.39 ERA in 24 total outings this season, including 23 starts. He
hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in an outing since June 23.
Maholm has struggled in nine career meetings with Washington, going 1-5 with a
The Nationals took advantage of three infield hits in the 13th inning of
Monday's opener to claim a 5-4 win and stretch their lead over the Braves to
six games for first place in the division.
Ian Desmond opened the frame with a single, but was out at second on Danny
Espinosa's ensuing fielder's choice to short. Kurt Suzuki then came up and
smacked an infield single that Braves third baseman Chipper Jones couldn't
handle cleanly, with Espinosa racing to third on the play.
Pinch-hitter Chad Tracy following with hard grounder to the right side that
Atlanta second baseman Dan Uggla dived to stop. Espinosa raced home on contact
and Uggla couldn't get the ball out of his glove cleanly to make a throw.
The win was Washington's fourth in five games and 15th in its past 19. It also
improved to 9-4 versus Atlanta this season.
"They were looking to come in here and try to do some damage and walk away
here with their heads high. Hopefully now they can't," Tracy said.
Though the Braves lost their third straight following wins in four in a row,
manager Fredi Gonzalez was happy that his club battled the division leaders in
a tight contest.
"I'm proud of the club. They came out and they battled for 13 innings,"
Gonzalez said. "I think that we've played some tough ballgames against a very
good team and we know we can hang in there."
Jason Heyward homered and drove in three runs for the Braves, while Ian
Desmond went deep for the Nats.
08/21 10:23:06 ET